Phrase Book

by Ben Higgins

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  • Hi GMCers and welcome to my latest lesson. This time I wanted to look at altering a phrase to give it variation in a song or a solo. When people like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai compose their instrumental tunes, they will usually have a melodic theme that runs through it. These themes will take the place of verses and choruses so these melodies will usually be repeated throughout. In order to make it interesting to the listener, they vary the phrases slightly.

    How do you vary a phrase? Well, you can add extra notes. You can bend up to a note instead of just picking it. You can use slides to reach notes. You can pick the note more than once. The only limit is your imagination. Think of it like a conversation. As the conversation progresses, it may get more animated. More intense, more emotional, more angry, more joyous.

    One point worth mentioning is that it is not only useful from a composing point of view. It is also useful for when you are improvising. If you can choose between several ways of playing the same thing, then you are much more free to express yourself according to how you feel at that moment in time. So, if you were just jamming to a track at home, you might be laid back and anything you play may be subtle.. but if you're blazing away over an emotive blues track at a gig you may feel like digging into the notes and adding extra bends because you feel emotionally intense. It's all about opening your eyes to the options that are available to you so you can play how you feel when you need to.

    You may notice I apply vibrato in this lesson. If you can manage this then great but it's not the main feature and requirement of the lesson. The vibrato technique I use on the E string is called classical vibrato and I covered this technique in another lesson here so I recommend investigating that if you want to work on vibrato too!

    Have fun with this lesson and apply the principles to your own solos!

    Key : G

    Progression :
    1st part - G, C, G, C, G, C, G, C
    Bridge 1 - Eb, F, Eb, F
    3rd part - repeat 1st
    Bridge 2 - repeat Bridge 1

    Gear :
    Marshall JVM.
    Solo - OD1 channel, Yellow setting. BASS - 1 MID - 7 TREBLE - 6 GAIN - 3
    Rhythm - OD2 channel, Green setting. BASS - 4 MID - 4 TREBLE - 6 GAIN - 3

    Scales used :

    Over parts 1 & 3 we use G Major

    Over the bridge we use G Minor

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